The Shelter in Place edict in Alameda County has been extended to May 3. The rules have been tightened to better fight the spread of the coronavirus.
The announcement came March 31 on the Alameda County Public Health Department’s website, after the number of deaths from the disease reached seven in the county. At press time, the total number of lab-confirmed cases was 294, plus another 19 cases in Berkeley, which has its own public health department.
Cases have increased eightfold in the Bay Area since the first order was issued March 15, so public health officers concluded stricter social distancing is needed to confine the virus’s spread. The new restrictions also apply to five other Bay Area counties: Contra Costa, Marin, Santa Clara, San Francisco and San Mateo.
Tighter restrictions include limiting funerals to no more than 10 people in attendance, barring access by the public to dog parks and picnic areas, and no use of public tennis and basketball courts. Most construction is banned. All essential businesses still open must develop a social distancing protocol before April 3.
Livermore Puts Hold on Evictions, Payments
Livermore City Manager Marc Roberts, who is also Director of Emergency Services, signed an order, effective immediately, placing a moratorium on residential and commercial evictions resulting from loss of income, increased medical expenses, or childcare needs related to COVID-19. The eviction order went into effect immediately, and will remain in effect through May 31, unless superseded by another order.
To qualify, the loss of income and medical expenses must be documented in writing. During the term of the order, a landlord is also prohibited from retaliating against a tenant that qualifies for the protections under the order.
In another order, Roberts placed a temporary moratorium on fines, penalties, and interest due to non-payment of certain taxes and charges. This applies to the city’s transient occupancy tax, business license tax, and water and sewer bills if failure to pay is caused by the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
The City Council is expected to ratify both emergency orders at its April 16 meeting.
In Pleasanton, the City Council meeting on March 24 was given an estimate by City Manager and Director of Emergency Services Nelson Fialho that the city could be drained of $3 million to $5 million by the coronavirus impact. (Please see accompanying story, Page 1.)
Dublin City Council has not met since declaring an emergency on March 18. A meeting via safe distance phone by council members is scheduled for April 7. The public can watch the meeting via Zoom video conferencing or through streaming on TV30.
Dublin has closed its playgrounds, but contrary to a rumor, it is still maintaining the grass by continuing to water it.
Also in Dublin, Farmers Market season will start April 2 in Emerald Glen Park, though hours will be modified to accommodate social distancing rules. The hours will be 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., with the first half-hour reserved for seniors. A customer code of ethics will be posted throughout the market. Stalls will be laid out so everyone keeps social distance; a rule of “you touch it, you buy it” will reign. No tables or chairs will be available in order to discourage shoppers from lingering.
Schools Remain Electronic until May 1
The county Department of Education announced that all schools will remain dismissed until May 1, or until further notice. County Superintendent Karen Monroe said the decision was regional, with six counties’ offices of education charting the course: Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara.
Restaurants Add Grocery Orders
Some restaurants have added groceries to their menus. In Livermore, First Street Alehouse now offers grocery service Tuesday through Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The store website at www.firststreetgrocery.com/ shows a wide variety of groceries from meats to fresh fruit to bread, and a way to order online. Shoppers just bring their receipts to pick up their orders. (Please see a list of open restaurants and other businesses on page 3.)
Hop DeVine on Vasco Road in Livermore is also selling meat and produce, in addition to pre-made dinners, for pick up on Fridays between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Orders for Friday pick up must be placed before 5 p.m. on Mondays. Website address is www.hopdevine.net/food-menu.
Bonuses for Grocery Workers
Lucky Stores, a division of Save Mart, is adding $2.50 to $3.50 per hour bonuses to its store and warehouse employees paychecks. Lucky wants to boost its food-handling capacity in response to the coronavirus crisis. For existing employees, the bonus will be retroactive to March 8. The bonus will apply equally in facilities with union or non-union contracts, said a company statement.
Safeway has agreed to pay $2 an hour “Appreciation Pay Premiums” for all employees for at least two weeks, according to Local 5 of the United Food and Commercial Workers. Existing workers will have first chance at extra work hours. Workers will have more flexibility in schedules to better accommodate child care needs. They can also use paid sick leave to cover child care.
VA Takes Steps to Minimize Exposure
The Veterans Administration is offering its patients ways to use medical services while keeping exposure to the coronavirus at a minimum. Veterans can receive care at home via telephone or video using VA Video Connect on their computers, smartphones, or tablets. Information about these options can be found at https://mobile.va.gov.
The VA is barring visitors until further notice at all its facilities. Exceptions will be made if a visitor is needed to help a patient navigate his or her appointment, and certain other circumstances. The VA has also cancelled all elective surgeries and procedures until further notice.
The VA’s Chief Communication Manager for the region, Armenthis Lester, said there is no truth to a rumor that the VA Hospital in Livermore was turning away people seeking to be tested for coronavirus.
Any veteran with symptoms of fever, cough and shortness of breath is asked to call the VA Medical Center before going to a clinic, urgent care, or emergency room. Veterans who are enrolled in VA Healthcare can be tested for the coronavirus, but not by dropping in. They must call a VA advice nurse at 1-800-329-8387, who will screen them over the phone. They must then follow further instructions from the advice nurse.